Whether your garden is your hobby or you hire a service to take care of it for you, there are definite tasks that need to be done based on the time of year. Garden tasks can be broken down by month. Here is your January gardening to-do list.
Although the numbers are not in yet to determine if December 2010’s rainfall record of 10.23” has been broken, Los Angelinos can all attest to the fact that December 2012 has been a pretty wet month.
Unlike our neighbors to the north and east, however, who remain snuggled indoors knowing freezing weather keeps their gardening chores at bay until spring, our chilly, wet nights are frequently followed by the warming rays of the sun, bringing temperatures back up to tee shirt weather as well as a burst of Los Angeles gardening.
In fact, our moderate, Mediterranean climate means we need to tend to our gardens all twelve months of the year. There is little room for the foliage phobic here! Looking at a whole years worth of “to-dos” can be overwhelming and it can be tempting to tear off those garden gloves in despair.
By breaking the year down into monthly tasks, it can seem less overwhelming. Here are our Los Angeles gardening tips for January:
• Bare-Root Planting: Nurseries are full of a great many bare-root selections this month such as roses, cane berry bushes, deciduous fruit and ornamental trees and vines and a few vegetables such as artichokes, asparagus.
• Pruning: Important for maintaining shape and, in the case of deciduous fruit trees, to insure a good crop the following spring. Consult a pruning manual for mild winter climates. I use Sunset Publishing’s “Pruning Handbook” for specific varieties.
• Dormant Spray Deciduous Plants: Once pruning, make sure to clean up all debris under the plants and follow with an insect/disease controlling spray such as horticultural oil (Volck Oil), lime sulfur, or fixed copper. The good thing about these oils is that their dormant season application means they will not harm beneficial insects or contaminate fruits. Make sure to carefully follow manufacturers’ instructions.
• Fertilize Citrus Trees: Citrus trees are heavy feeders and, in our coastal clay soils, a mature tree needs about one pound of nitrogen per year. Remember that it is the first number of the three digit listing on all balanced fertilizers that stands for nitrogen, the second number is for phosphorus and the third, potassium) Also correct for chlorosis (yellowing leaves) by adding chelated iron combined with zinc to the soil.
• Cymbidiums: This is a great time of year to take a day trip to Carpentaria/Santa Barbara to view and select the large variety of cymbidiums as well as other orchid varietals grown in the many nurseries located there. Check out California Orchid Trail for a listing of those nurseries open to the public. If your garden is already lucky enough to have this easy to grow orchid in place, continue fertilizing with a high bloom formula (I use Grow-More Orchid Premium Food Bloom Formula 6-30-30 through this month, then switch to 30-10-10 February 1st) and stake flowering stalks as they appear.
• Cut Back Perennials
• Control Weeds by hand pulling and tilling while they are young, and by mulching.
• Plant Cool-Season Annual Flowers
• Fill in Vegetable Beds with Winter Vegetable Transplants or Seeds such as Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Celery, Lettuce, Parsley, Peas Swiss Chard, Beets, Carrots, Mesclun, Lettuce.
• Select Succulents and Cacti: Particularly now, while many are in bloom.
• Clean Out the Garden Shed: Maintain tools.
• Order Seeds from companies that have signed the Safe Seed Pledge insuring their seeds are Non-GMO (not genetically modified). I recommend Seeds Now they are organic, non-GMO, and local!
• Create A Garden Notebook: Work can be intense and if we are not careful, all consuming so taking the time to walk through your garden to simply observe and listen is a wonderful way to keep it in the right perspective. Take notes, make a sketch; whether the size of Versailles or a postage plot, making that connection with the tiny but incredible buzz of life that goes on 24/7 no matter what may be happening elsewhere is guaranteed to lower the blood pressure!
There are plenty of things to keep you busy when it comes to Los Angeles gardening, so make a list of your priorities based on the time you have and type of garden you have. Then focus on just what needs your attention this month. It’ll make it all much easier to do.
What tips do you have on tending to your garden this month? Feel free to leave a comment in the field below!